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Top 5 candidates to replace Dana Holgorsen



Thomas Graning

News broke late last night that former West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen has agreed to accept a head coaching position with the University of Houston and that an official announcement will come sometime Tuesday.

Later today, we’ll delve into the legacy Holgorsen left behind at West Virginia and the lessons we learned along the way.

Now, though, a more significant decision needs to be made.

Who will replace Dana Holgorsen?

Let’s preface by saying athletic director Shane Lyons has a “pretty good idea” of who he wants given he’s expected Dana’s departure for some time now. Both parties saw the proverbial writing on the wall, affording Lyons a head start on vetting a handful of candidates.

From the absurd to the slightly more logical choices, there is a great amount of speculation surrounding who will be the next head coach of the Mountaineers.

Here are five names that have either been confirmed as potential hires or are at least in consideration.


Dan Enos – Alabama associate head coach/quarterbacks coach (2018); Central Michigan head coach (2010-2014)

Enos’s record as a head coach (26-36) will be a hard sell to fan base that applauded Holgorsen’s exit, but his recent stint with the Crimson Tide can’t be overlooked. Having served as the deputy athletic director at Alabama from 2011-2014, Lyons has connections in Tuscaloosa that would make pursuing Enos that much easier. Prior to becoming a head coach for the Broncos, Enos served as the quarterbacks coach at Michigan State in 2006 and as the Spartans’ running backs coach from 2007-2009.

Jason Candle – Toledo head coach (2015-2018)

Candle has spent the majority of his coaching career with the Rockets, dating back to 2009 when he was hired as the tight ends coach. As the head man for Toledo, Candle has amassed a 28-13 overall record, including a bowl win in 2015 and 11 wins in 2017. At only 39 years old, Candle’s name has surfaced as one of the up-and-coming young coaches in college football. Despite his impressive record as a head coach, Candle and the Rockets have lost their last three bowl games.

Mike Norvell – Memphis head coach (2016-2018)

Since taking over for former Memphis head coach Justin Fuente in 2015, Norvell and the Tigers have yet to win less than eight games in a season. Yet when it comes to the post-season, Norvell is 0-3 in bowl games. If West Virginia were to pursue Norvell, it’s interesting to note that Memphis just signed Norvell to a contract extension, paying him $2.6 million per year. His buyout, however, is only $500,000.

Luke Fickell – Cincinnati head coach (2017-2018); Ohio State co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach (2005-2016)

For the longest time, Fickell was thought to be the best young coach in all of college football after serving over a decade as a coach for the Buckeyes. His recent stint with Cincinnati, however, is the reason he makes this list. After suffering through a 4-8 record in 2017, the Bearcats secured its first 11-win season since 2009. His buyout of $2.5 million is pretty steep, though.

Neal Brown – Troy head coach (2015-2018)

In my opinion, I’ve saved the best for last. Neal Brown’s tenure at Troy has been nothing short of spectacular and the main reason his name has been tossed around for several high-major jobs around the country. After a 4-8 record in 2015, Brown guided the Trojans to three-straight 10-wins seasons, two conference titles, and three-straight bowl wins. Brown has also proven he can compete at the highest level, defeating LSU in Baton Rouge in 2017 and Nebraska in 2018. Brown’s buyout is nearly $3 million, however, so West Virginia would need to pay up if he’s to become the next head coach in Morgantown. Brown also has ties to the Big 12, serving as an offensive coordinator for Texas Tech from 2010-2012.

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